Over the years, the Greater Washington Board of Trade has waged an orchestrated campaign to promote the proposed intercounty connector (ICC) -- a highway between Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Now it makes the outlandish claim that ambulance response times are being drastically affected by the lack of an ICC [Close to Home, June 6]. Brian Grissler cited no evidence that emergency patient care is in any way compromised by the lack of an ICC. Other than the vague assertion that we need an adequate road network to save lives, he offers no reason why a road costing $1 billion is needed to facilitate emergency transport to any particular hospital.

Mr. Grissler fails to note the existing network of fire and rescue stations throughout Montgomery and Prince George's counties. A resident who requests an ambulance likely will receive service from a nearby fire/rescue station -- usually located right in the caller's community or within a few miles. Most ambulance transports are made to the closest hospital. This is hardly the type of situation requiring an ICC.

Moreover, most ambulance trips to the hospital do not require high-speed transport. For patients requiring long-distance transport to a specific hospital (for instance, transport of a fire victim to the Washington Hospital Center's burn unit), the Maryland State Police maintain helicopters staffed by paramedics to transport patients.

True, traffic impedes the delivery of fire and rescue service, but so do adverse weather conditions, illegally parked cars and the failure of motorists to yield the right of way. Constructing a new road to speed up ambulance response times is hardly the solution. As popular sentiment grows against the expense, environmental destruction and development that the ICC will cause, the arguments propagated by the Board of Trade grow even more shrill and illogical.



Brian Grissler says that the intercounty connector highway should be built because "a few minutes shaved off the response time of an ambulance crew can make the difference between life and death."

Many more minutes could be shaved off ambulance response times if new housing were built near hospitals in established communities, rather than on large lots far from existing infrastructure.

If Mr. Grissler and his colleagues on the Board of Trade are sincerely concerned about ambulance response, why do they oppose controls on sprawl development in Loudoun, Frederick and other outer suburban counties?


Silver Spring